1.01.2012

A Note.

In this era, my poetry will doubtless be considered irrelevant. As of late poetry is considered relevant inasmuch as it makes pretense towards some form of activism. It's not whether or not poets are or ought to make verses about that which concerns them; but whether or not the poet considers themselves an agent of policy, even indirectly.

This is not to say that I am wholly amoral or apolitical, certainly it is impossible while yet merely a man to be 'one without a polis' as a wise man once told a young Greek. But it is simply that I have always sought to carry those things lightly, like a banner, and my sins and failings heavily, like a cross.

This approach, though without a doubt never universal, has always been available; and it is itself wholly unpopular in our time. We have for our part a reversal of the words of Christ, that is, to gain or save the whole world, if only at the cost of one's soul. But saved for what? My thoughts continue on this always, when seeing any spare thing, any pattern or growth or withering-away.

One writer thought it wise to put in the words of a character, "The world is full of lies, so I decided to think for myself." But it is not, as one day a character of my own will say, not the world that lies; for the world hasn't the gumption to even mislead. It is mankind that lies, and when he fails to see the Earth spinning against the sun he blames nature for being inscrutable. It is not as though thinking for one's self is a virtue. It is a necessity. Eating is a necessity, but it would not be called a virtue. And finding the worst liar is easy; it only takes a mirror and a quick count of the number of lies we've believed and who they came from.

Again the popular thing is to carry politics and heredity and culture like a cross and sin like a banner; and so poetry reads less like a romance and more like an obituary. It is not surprising in the least that there is little music in much of it; and in saying this I place myself against many of my contemporaries, even some whom I personally respect because they are better men than I both in letters and character. In this vein, we also see some good poets waste themselves in anger and lust, without the decency that some pop lyricists had of rolling the whole thing in a healthy and redeemable metaphor or at least a palatable euphemism.

No, I cannot stomach any of it, I can hardly chew it or even bear to taste it. So instead I learned how to write my own, since I learned to make that which I wanted but could not find. It is telling that we find ourselves unable to call spoken poetry 'music' on one hand, because it is angry, and unwilling to laugh about the meanness of our upbringing when men of past times sung about how good it was to be alive.

It is on this same pattern we find all sorts of maladies of our culture, not to pretend that cultures in older times had not maladies of their own. But it would simply be that they had some other malady, as the doctor would not treat you for your grandfather's long-gone case of the Measles. We complain of blood in the water when the plague has certainly moved on to frogs.

The general gist of this note then is, that I am not a modern poet. I am not even a post-modern poet; you cannot, like a fence, attach any number of posts to the modern and reach me. I am not in the yard. If a man looks back far enough, he can find the kernels of each of the modern conceits, but shown in a more sensible scale. Free verse was there. Prose-poetry was there. Doggerel, even bizarre abstractions. Bulls and odd associations nigh abounded. But why were they so different? I have no time to say here. I would first have to tackle the giant of stock responses and proper affections. I would either need a small but strong word like a smooth stone, or a whole army of them armed with sharp spears.

The whole irony then is, that because poetry teaches affection, that people no longer seem to desire what was once good poetry is then the fault of the poets themselves. But, the poets can do nothing, since, as we might glibly say, "They didn't start the fire."  It is also the irony of the market; of the cyclical feedback. Do we need people to be more accepting of homosexuality? Is that because we create more homosexuality by exposing people to more sexuality in general? Did this also create a greater desire to procreate which resulted in more illegitimate births? Did this then make how to deal with unwanted pregnancies more pressing? And what of people being unfeeling and uncommunicative? Did we decide that they could teach themselves how to feel and communicate, and then find out they didn't? Did ultimately no-one take responsibility for this because they were too busy working for material pleasures or just material necessities? And were those whose words were spread out like the drifting seed of the dandelion to find purchase in the untilled minds of latch-key children take any responsibility or even thought for their 'self expression'? For the poisons spread in each word, now amplified thousands of times by mass communication?

As I am mortal still I must one day lay in the bed we have made, that is, lie breathless in the ground covered in the trod earth, killed as much by man's sins as by my own mortality. I cannot escape or even begin to pretend that I can address the depth of the wickedness of man. In fact, it is pointless to consider as much other than something like a fast moving car from a nice view by the highway. It has no being; and so it is a hole for beings. My own errors for sure are heavy like irons, but as heavy as that car may be, it passes like the wind, driven by a passionate, crushing heat.

It then has become my interest simply to find something to sing about, but not flippantly as one who finds wrongness somehow right. There are no felicities to sin except those felicities which were there before it. I assert it has added nothing and cannot; but rather it must be a worthy thing one sings about.

And the realization was simply this, that the world is quite full of worthy subjects, subjects worthy of a song. I can smirk all day at the ironies of every ironic response to an ill, or to an injustice, which while being better than smirking at health or justice is still mockery. When a man sees a merchant as a rogue, he is thinking to demean his character and lay low his profession. Merchants may be rogues, and indeed a given merchant may indeed be a spectacular example of the type more than his fellows. But what is worth singing about is not that injustice was done, or that justice is handily mocked, but that there is indeed a roguish man and a merchant, and that in all of this he is still a man while he is able.

So if I seem irrelevant, or foolish, or backwards, or lax, or even God forbid unsubtle, it is probable that none of these things is a pretense.

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